May 2021 review

Virtual / (not)parkrun

The first Saturday of the month saw 39 submissions with Neil Price topping the list overall and Fiona Drysdale bagging the fastest time for the ladies. The numbers dropped to 31 for the second weekend with Gareth Davies and Jo Gamba topping the male and female times respectively.

A post from our Chair mid month revealed that over the previous 61 weeks since we started doing virtual parkruns, we had surpassed 3,000 virtual parkruns between us averaging over 50 per week. That weekend saw a slight increase back towards that average with 46 times submitted. Neil and Sian Price not only topped the male and female times, but had the fastest two times overall.

The fourth virtual parkrun-day of the month saw 43 times submitted with Neil and Sian repeating their impressive feat of posting the fastest times overall and the final weekend saw 36 runs submitted with Neil and Sian making it a hat-trick of fastest times.


At the Glastonbury 10K, our April Female Runner of the Month Lisa King ran 45:10. The time earned her a second club age category record just one week after her outstanding half marathon time.

At the Worcester Marathon we had 4 members in attendance which makes it our biggest attended race since the Dragon 50/100 in September last year. Gareth Richards completed his first official race marathon of the 20 marathon distance runs he had completed up to this point in 2021, and bagged himself a huge official PB of 3:18:07, knocking 12 minutes off his previous best official marathon time. He was also 14th overall in the race and his time earned him a club age category record. Carl Walsh ran 3:59 in his 58th official marathon. Wayne Randall ran 4:26 to obliterate his previous best marathon time. Chris Pratt ran 4:37 in what was his 41st official marathon.

Carl was back in action again later in the month with the Barry Track Marathon…. yes, track as in 400m running track… 105 laps! He completed the bonkers event (which also has a 40 mile option?!) in an impressive 3:33:24.

Virtual events and challenges

The virtual events continue as we await races and parkruns to return in Wales. This months addition to the virtual hall of fame is Stephanie Dyke who completed the Welsh Coastal Path challenge on the first day of the month after 10 months of logging the miles to reach the target of 870 miles. Many others are at various stages having started at different points throughout last year or this year.

Gareth Richards has continued his marathon running expliots and is now on 22 marathons in 22 weeks. Gareth has already ran 1,000 miles this year whilst I’m due to join him in passing that total within the first week of June. I continue on my ultra running journey and ran over marathon distance for the 8th time this year with a 31.1 mile (50K) route from Bridgend to the Bwlch via Ogmore Valley and then back via the Garw Valley having started at 430am.

There were also some impressive firsts in the month. One of our junior members Katy Griffiths ran Half Marathon distance for the first time with a route starting from the Bwlch and finishing at Newbridge Feilds. The Phoenix members were out in force with more than a dozen different runners joining her for sections of the run, and despite some pretty wet conditions for the end of the run, there were many in attendance to cheer her across the virtual finish line at Newbridge Fields.

Melanie Thomas ran her first marathon distance. The final sunflower relay route from the Bwlch to the seafront in Porthcawl appears to become ‘a thing’ after many choose it for their Virtual London Marathon route last October and then Katy starting her half marathon from there. Melanie decided to go for this route as well and had been training for the distance for many weeks. It wasn’t about the time but if Melanie repeats her 4:28 in an official race then that puts her up with the top 10 or so female marathon times in the club. Again, friends, family and Phoenix members joined in at various points to run with Melanie or cheer her on.

Possibly the most unexpected challenge was from Linda Harris. Undoutably inspired by her son – Ogmore Phoenix legend and two-time 100 mile ultra finisher – Nick Harris, Linda who was only known to most of us as a parkrunner, decided to attempt to complete 50 miles along the coastal path. Not only that, but she chose to start at the starting point for the Dragon 100 in Rhossili which Nick completed a couple of years ago. I did this route for my 12 hour run last month and whilst it’s a specatular route in terms of scenary, it’s very challenging in terms of terrain and elevation. Linda and Nick set off on Saturday morning at 7:34am and finished in Porthcawl, 22 hours and 42 minutes later at 6:16am on Sunday morning. What an incredible achievement. Interestingly of our current members, it’s only Nick himself that has done a run with a longer elapsed time than that. Linda can now claim the longest distance covered by any current female member of the club as well as the longest time from the start to finish of a run.

Miles for Mind

The latest monthly challenge saw dozens of Phoenix setting themselves mileage targets for the month of May to raise funds and awareness for the charity Mind. Well done to everyone who participated whether you reached your target or didn’t quite get there. Picking out a few highlights, Denise Bradley ran/walked an astonishing 248.2 miles as her training ramps up for the 2 day Race for the Stones 100K event. Melanie Thomas clocked up 172 miles whilst many others clocked three-figure mileage including coach Kembo which is amazing to see after over a year of slowly building back up the mileage.

Chairman’s Runner’s of the Month

So good to see events already returned and more on the horizon, especially with many within our midst setting their sights on getting back to crossing a finish line.  In the meantime many are still taking on virtual challenges and setting themselves their own goals to keep up the motivation.  My first choice for this month falls into that category and recently tackled a feat of incredible endeavour.  Keeping quiet about training taking place in the background it was a surprise to many when advertised that it was taking place.  A determination to succeed that was admirable from the outset.  The ambition was to finish, nothing more, but also nothing less!  Perhaps there’s something in the genes as it’s a trait we’ve seen from the same pool on a number of occasions.  Quietly setting slightly larger goals and taking them on over several months.  Increasing distance and time on feet.  Appropriate and measured preparation that should be applauded.  It was a big target but it was always approached with a sensible head.  She had her son alongside her, not only for moral support but for his wisdom having completed double the distance on a couple of occasions.  The plan was always 50 miles along the Wales Coastal Path.  Rhossili to Porthcawl.  Starting where the path wanders up and down as well as hugging the coast.  Particularly testing for the legs.  The impetus was raising funds.  Committing to something like that can be the catalyst that drives training and can also be the inspiration when the going gets tough on the actual event.  That was definitely the case.  A huge distance was covered.  Time mattered not.  This was about achieving the goal.  With determination they kept going through day and night to arrive the following morning, exhausted but elated.  An incredible feat and one that shows the power of commitment and determination.  I am delighted to award my Chairman’s Female Runner of the Month for May to Linda Harris.  Well done Linda.  Thank you for the inspiration!

Again, this is an accolade being presented to someone who has floated a little under the radar over the last few months.  Occasional posts spotted of miles being clocked up in the background.  Distances slowly increasing but without a clear idea of where it will lead.  Something that’s commonplace with events taking place sporadically and surrounded by uncertainty.  We all know that to run long distance requires commitment to a training schedule.  When there isn’t a guarantee of an end goal it’s often about just keeping the miles up and preventing the body from picking up an injury.  Commitment and focus is required to keep this going.  It’s clearly been shown here.  When the training goes well and a race appears on the horizon, it’s natural to sign up.  Nerves and uncertainty of how it might pan out are to be expected.  Setting out sensibly and then feeling good when the demons usually appear to bring doubt into the equation are a recipe for success.  I was lucky to witness this first hand.  As my own legs faded I watched my choice of runner disappear into the distance, steadily and consistently forging forward.  The outcome was a new best time at marathon distance.  The training had been done.  The commitment was there on the day.  The desired time was beaten with smiles at the finish line!  Good preparation and execution.  All compounding to create a positive mindset for setting running plans for the future.   A great example of what can be achieved when you set your mind to it.  I am delighted to award my Chairman’s Male Runner of the Month for may to Wayne Randall.  Fantastic work Wayne.  I’m really looking forward to where this leads over the coming year.

Special mention this month to a junior with ambition.  Endeavour that captured the hearts of many of our senior members.  Members who joined the cause to provide support on a journey that inspired.  Last month I acknowledged the support of one who showed enormous Phoenix Spirit to provide a vital role in this journey.  Today I acknowledge the feat itself.  A half Marathon. Special mention to Katy Griffiths for setting a goal, training for it with focus, leading to succesful completion and inspiring many of us in the process.   Well done Katy.  I sense a great number of endurance events taking place in the future…  Events that will be acknowledged with similar accolades to those I post monthly in the future I’m sure.  Keep inspiring.